Will tourists return to Syria?

By | Category: Travel destinations
my old Syrian tourist board brochure

my old Syrian tourist board brochure

The destruction of parts of Palmyra and Aleppo plus untold other attacks on Syria’s heritage makes me wonder whether the type of tourism on which the country relied will ever return.

Amongst my swathes of paper, I came across a Syrian tourism brochure from many years ago. The front cover described the country as the “Cradle of Civilization” but it was how it described itself inside that was more revealing.

It describes Palmyra as a “pearl in the desert” and as “one of the most graceful and splendid ancient sites in the east. “Just open your eyes,” it continues to say, “you are surrounded by the past.” I am not sure that tells the truth any more. The next sentence is certainly not true. “These ancient pearls of the Syrian Desert shine forever.” This travel guide is now almost a history book.

Towards the end, the brochure says, “a visit to Syria engages the heart and the mind.” You don’t even need to visit Syria these days to be so affected.

some sights we won't see again

some sights we won’t see again

But one day when peace stability returns hat will be te future of the tourism in a country which heavily relied on its heritage. Will tourists just be taken to a levelled site? Will visitors instead be shown a vacant plot of land and told what was there and the atrocities committed on those who tried to reserve the country’s past? Will wealthy individuals or the state try to rebuild what was destroyed?

Whatever is decided, tourists won’t be returning to Syria for a while. And that means little foreign exchange to bolster the Syrian treasury and help Syrians recover from the effects of the past few years. They will also have to substantially alter their travel guides.

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